Confederate earthen fortifications in the Trans-Mississippi

Rusk County Avengers

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There is "something" there. The marker reads "restored remnant and replica" so I'm not exactly sure whether the raised ground in the park is actually an original earthwork or something created for the park.

But here are some more visual aids that might help show what is there.

View attachment 299760View attachment 299761View attachment 299763
View attachment 299764

Yeah I saw right off and said "Restored remnant my foot!" They didn't restore nothing by the looks of it, they just landscaped what little is left of the remains. Restored would be building it back to its CW appearance in that section, and they have enough left they could haul in some soil and materials and build it back, but I doubt they ever will. It actually wouldn't be that hard or expensive.
 

ErnieMac

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Photo of a part of Fort Desperate earthworks at Port Hudson taken in 2012. Because of the foliage and terrain its difficult to get good views in a lot of areas.
038.JPG
 

bdtex

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Seeing this thread has made me wanna go back and re-read the stuff I have about Fort Butler at Donaldsonville and the Star Fort at Brashear City nka Morgan City.
 

bdtex

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The Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department had a lot of fortifications, most of them non-existent today, and many of them of sound design and construction.
Didja come across any blueprints on Fort Randolph or Fort Buhlow? I try to stop there everytime I pass through Alexandria/Pineville.
 

nyarb60

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Jacksonville, FL
I believe that the most northern Confederate-built fortifications in the Trans-Mississippi were those at New Madrid and Island #10. Can any one think of others?

Fort Wright, Tennessee:

About 5,000 troops from Tennessee, Arkansas and the Confederate Army were stationed at the location to accomplish the task. It took four months to fortify the bluff at Randolph with earthen defenses and artillery batteries in order to protect the fort from land and naval attacks.

By June 1861, the construction of the fortification was not yet completely finished. However, 50 cannons were reported to be ready at Fort Wright by that time, "mostly thirty-two pounders; the rest larger, 42s and 64s. Thirty-two of them are mounted". The Memphis Bulletin published a status report of Fort Wright after a visit at the fortification on June 22, 1861. By that time, the "earthen breastworks have been sodded with grass" and were reported "twenty to thirty feet in thickness" (6–10 m). Only one "narrow defile on the landward side" was reported by the Bulletin which was "defended by heavy guns" and "crossed by an earthen wall thirty to forty feet in thickness" (10–12 m). A "crescent shaped wall" 0.25 to 0.5 miles (400–800 m) to the east of the fortification provided a defense from land attacks. Fort Randolph, a second Confederate stronghold in the area, was constructed only months after Fort Wright, in Fall 1861.

Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821–77) and Alexander P. Stewart (1821–1908) trained at Fort Wright.[ Stewart was promoted to the rank of Major in the "Tennessee Militia" by Governor Harris and was assigned "command of the heavy artillery and water batteries (...) at Fort Wright" shortly after his own training there was completed. Stewart "organized and trained 20 batteries of Tennessee artillery" at Fort Wright at Randolph.[9] Both Forrest and Stewart would later become important figures in the rank of Lieutenant General in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Other future leaders in the Army of Tennessee and Forrest's cavalry received training at Fort Wright.

Fort Wright was Tennessee's first military training camp in which soldiers could gain experience in the construction of fortifications and the setup of artillery batteries to counter naval attacks. They could undertake defense drills and acquire general military skills and discipline. Soldiers who were trained at Fort Wright fought in battles on different battlefields later in the war, the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Belmont, the Battle of Murfreesboro, the Battle of Chickamauga, the Battle of Franklin and the Battle of Bentonville. The Confederate stronghold at Fort Wright was the forwardmost defensive position on the Mississippi River until July 1861, it was abandoned by the Confederate infantry by 1862 but sporadically occupied by other southern forces during the Civil War.

In 2008, only a powder magazine is left of Fort Wright.

If only a powder magazine was all that was left at Fort Wright, I can only imagine the plundering my locals through the years to study
and dismantle this precious property.

Therefore it is my opinion that the fortifications in the west were better than those in the east. The men that served in the east were typically privileged men, about to have the luxury of Military academies for schooling, whereas the men in the west lived and survived in
their backwoods, and knew those areas well, as they were their "playgrounds" since being young boys.

I have more respect for those men than the yes sir, educated men of the VMI's and such, than the men that had to dig deep into their souls to accomplish the great works they did, while being outnumbered in most situations, to ascertain supplies, stop advancements, acquire livestock and horses, weapons, food, artillery, including the where with all to go behind enemy lines in order to do these task
and be in and out like the great Francis Marion.

wikipedia.Fort Wright
Randolph_TN_Ft_Wright_powder_mag_entrance_vi.jpg
 
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Rusk County Avengers

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Location
Coffeeville, TX
Fort Wright, Tennessee:

About 5,000 troops from Tennessee, Arkansas and the Confederate Army were stationed at the location to accomplish the task. It took four months to fortify the bluff at Randolph with earthen defenses and artillery batteries in order to protect the fort from land and naval attacks.

By June 1861, the construction of the fortification was not yet completely finished. However, 50 cannons were reported to be ready at Fort Wright by that time, "mostly thirty-two pounders; the rest larger, 42s and 64s. Thirty-two of them are mounted". The Memphis Bulletin published a status report of Fort Wright after a visit at the fortification on June 22, 1861. By that time, the "earthen breastworks have been sodded with grass" and were reported "twenty to thirty feet in thickness" (6–10 m). Only one "narrow defile on the landward side" was reported by the Bulletin which was "defended by heavy guns" and "crossed by an earthen wall thirty to forty feet in thickness" (10–12 m). A "crescent shaped wall" 0.25 to 0.5 miles (400–800 m) to the east of the fortification provided a defense from land attacks. Fort Randolph, a second Confederate stronghold in the area, was constructed only months after Fort Wright, in Fall 1861.

Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821–77) and Alexander P. Stewart (1821–1908) trained at Fort Wright.[ Stewart was promoted to the rank of Major in the "Tennessee Militia" by Governor Harris and was assigned "command of the heavy artillery and water batteries (...) at Fort Wright" shortly after his own training there was completed. Stewart "organized and trained 20 batteries of Tennessee artillery" at Fort Wright at Randolph.[9] Both Forrest and Stewart would later become important figures in the rank of Lieutenant General in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Other future leaders in the Army of Tennessee and Forrest's cavalry received training at Fort Wright.

Fort Wright was Tennessee's first military training camp in which soldiers could gain experience in the construction of fortifications and the setup of artillery batteries to counter naval attacks. They could undertake defense drills and acquire general military skills and discipline. Soldiers who were trained at Fort Wright fought in battles on different battlefields later in the war, the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Belmont, the Battle of Murfreesboro, the Battle of Chickamauga, the Battle of Franklin and the Battle of Bentonville. The Confederate stronghold at Fort Wright was the forwardmost defensive position on the Mississippi River until July 1861, it was abandoned by the Confederate infantry by 1862 but sporadically occupied by other southern forces during the Civil War.

In 2008, only a powder magazine is left of Fort Wright.

If only a powder magazine was all that was left at Fort Wright, I can only imagine the plundering my locals through the years to study
and dismantle this precious property.

Ah Fort Wright, a place I've desired to visit and look over, thanks for the posting this that is truly a forgotten fort, along with God only knows how many forgotten fortified positions from the War.

Therefore it is my opinion that the fortifications in the west were better than those in the east. The men that served in the east were typically privileged men, about to have the luxury of Military academies for schooling, whereas the men in the west lived and survived in
their backwoods, and knew those areas well, as they were their "playgrounds" since being young boys.

I have more respect for those men than the yes sir, educated men of the VMI's and such, than the men that had to dig deep into their souls to accomplish the great works they did, while being outnumbered in most situations, to ascertain supplies, stop advancements, acquire livestock and horses, weapons, food, artillery, including the where with all to go behind enemy lines in order to do these task
and be in and out like the great Francis Marion.

I would like to caution you though, not all Eastern Confederate soldiers were "privileged", more than a few were from the "backwoods". The main faulting in the East may have been a strong deference for educated Virginians over others, sometimes more capable but this is too broad a brush to paint an entire theater with.

Also more than a few forts in the Western Theater were designed by West Point Engineers, and as previously noted a lot of forts here in the Trans-Mississippi were designed by Austrian and German engineers who were educated in the military academies of Europe, so it can be said they were designed by "privileged" men. Just cautioning you on painting with too broad a brush, finer details require a smaller more precise brush, metaphorically speaking.
 

nyarb60

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Location
Jacksonville, FL
Ah Fort Wright, a place I've desired to visit and look over, thanks for the posting this that is truly a forgotten fort, along with God only knows how many forgotten fortified positions from the War.



I would like to caution you though, not all Eastern Confederate soldiers were "privileged", more than a few were from the "backwoods". The main faulting in the East may have been a strong deference for educated Virginians over others, sometimes more capable but this is too broad a brush to paint an entire theater with.

Also more than a few forts in the Western Theater were designed by West Point Engineers, and as previously noted a lot of forts here in the Trans-Mississippi were designed by Austrian and German engineers who were educated in the military academies of Europe, so it can be said they were designed by "privileged" men. Just cautioning you on painting with too broad a brush, finer details require a smaller more precise brush, metaphorically speaking.


I stand corrected, thank you for your knowledge, which I lack. I have not read enough to make the statements I made, it was more
of a knee jerk reaction. Thanks for pointing that out to me.
 

J. D. Stevens

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Deep In The Heart of Texas
the Star Fort at Brashear City nka Morgan City

Until @bdtex brought it up and I had forgotten about taking these pictures while on Donald Frazier's Southern Louisiana Tour a couple years ago. The Battle of Brashear City (today Morgan City) was a victory for the Confederates. Except for a narrow strip of land where the rail road enters town, Brashear city is surrounded by water and swamps which left the Federal troops no escape. As they fell back from their camps and town, the Star Fort became their last stand before surrendering.

There is not much left, but some of the earthworks can still be made out. The city has made it into a nice little park today. At least it has been preserved. The lone figure walking in the distance is none other than the intrepid bdtex.
132 Star Ft @ Brashear City.JPG



The lone marker is all that is left to tell the story.
133 Star Ft @ Brashear City.JPG
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Location
Coffeeville, TX
I stand corrected, thank you for your knowledge, which I lack. I have not read enough to make the statements I made, it was more
of a knee jerk reaction. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

No need to beat yourself up, we all have to swallow our pride from time to time, keeps us humble. If you want to read of un-privileged Virginians, Colonel Andrew Jackson Grigsby is one man I'd recommend you look into, I think you'll like his story, he was an un-churchly non-VMI educated officer who was slighted by the famous Stonewall a couple of times. Of course that's not even getting into Virginians slighting Southerners from other States, Wade Hampton provides a good example, as does Longstreet at times.
 

nyarb60

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Location
Jacksonville, FL
No need to beat yourself up, we all have to swallow our pride from time to time, keeps us humble. If you want to read of un-privileged Virginians, Colonel Andrew Jackson Grigsby is one man I'd recommend you look into, I think you'll like his story, he was an un-churchly non-VMI educated officer who was slighted by the famous Stonewall a couple of times. Of course that's not even getting into Virginians slighting Southerners from other States, Wade Hampton provides a good example, as does Longstreet at times.


thanks, it sounds like some interesting reads, which I will look into. I know there was an issue with educated officers vs. foot soldiers and would find those reads interesting to know. Thanks for the kind words of being a
"jump" to quickly to answer. I do that sometimes, and then realize there are so many educated folks on this site, which is why I joined, to learn more about the war, because I find it so fascinating.
 

mjr251

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Near Port Arthur, Texas
Were they inferior contraptions thrown up by backward western Confederates?
Most emphatically no. At least until Magruder arrived.

Magruder brought with him some of the same engineers who had worked on his fortifications on the Peninsula, namely Valery Sulakowski and Henry T. Douglas (who feuded with each other throughout the war). I'll list the credentials of engineers I know of who served the CS cause in Texas -

Sulakowski - officer in the Austrian army, civil engineer in New Orleans before the war
Douglas - civil engineer, variously serving on the staffs of Magruder, Kirby Smith, AP Hill, and GW Smith
Julius Kellersberg - civil and military engineer, also a former officer of the Austrian army, helped lay out the townsite of Oakland, California
Caleb G. Forshey - besides being a talented civil engineer and inventor, founded his own military academy in Galveston before the war
William H. Griffin - commanded his own 21st Texas Infantry Battalion and was an honors graduate of West Point in civil engineering
Theodore Heermann - prewar physician and civil engineer
Theodore Kosse - civil engineer
Richard M. Venable - civil engineer, graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, served on Kirby Smith's staff

None of these men were clueless about the siting, construction, and armament of fortifications.

There were works built by militia forces when the war started, such as Fort Sabine, or old, prewar, and obsolete earthworks such as Fort Point at Galveston, Fort Washington at the Matagorda Peninsula and south of Saluria, and the Town Redoubt at Velasco. But when some of the above-named engineers became responsible for defense of these areas, the fortifications became a thing for the Federals to reckon with. It's already been pointed out that the extensive, powerful fortifications at Caney Creek halted the further progress of US General Washburn up the Matagorda before the campaign was abandoned. However, the powerfully-built and well-armed Fort Esperanza (which replaced the earlier-mentioned Fort Washington) had to be abandoned during an attack by Washburn's forces in November 1863, as its guns all faced the Gulf and its landward defenses failed to stop the Federals.

This is the report from Kellersberg about the first fort at Sabine Pass, which was built by militiamen who had no experience in engineering or soldiering -

About 2 miles south of the town of Sabine, and on same side of the river, there is an earthwork thrown up not sufficient to protect the four guns that are in it. The shape and figure is also not according to the proper defense, the ground itself about 2 feet too low, and therefore subject to occasional overflow. The location itself is a good one, and has command over vessels that can cross the bar, which has about an average depth of 6 to 7 feet, with soft, muddy bottom. The armament consists of four guns, of which two are 32-pounders and two 18-pounders. All four are on old and unwieldy truck carriages. The powder magazine is not bombproof, and also subject to overflows. The whole work is in a dilapidated condition. There is ammunition enough for all four guns, but they have no fuses for shells, nor port-fires, neither gunners’ level, tangent scales, pass-boxes, friction-tubes, lanyards, &c.

This work was attacked by three US Navy ships on September 25, 1862, which blasted it out of the fort's range in the evening. During the night, the guns were spiked and fort was evacuated by the CS. One of the Federal skippers, Lewis W. Pennington (who had been a resident of Sabine Pass before the war), actually witnessed the soil thrown by the explosion of a shell bury a man who was standing in the works. This tells me that the soil used to build the parapet was not layered and tamped, and was not of the proper dimensions (the thickness and slope of properly engineered parapets would absorb incoming ordnance).

Kellersberg then recommended a plan to remedy these deficiencies, and he was immediately ordered to implement them -

About 3 to 5 miles up the river there are two 24-pounders on barbette carriages mounted on a shell bank. They are there of no use whatever, as there is a bar with but 3 feet of water at the mouth of Sabine River into Sabine Lake. No vessels of any amount can therefore go up to these guns. They can therefore be employed somewhere else. The pass at Sabine is certainly a very important point, and in fact the only port from where we receive our powder and other articles. It is the nearest point to the West Indies and easy of access. I would therefore recommend the erection of a strong open battery in place of the old one, for five guns (three of 32 and two of 24-pounders), all on barbette carriages. Then take those two 18-pounders and place them half way between the battery and the town, so that they may flank the lower works.

The strong, open battery he referred to became Fort Griffin, which was unfinished by the time of a much more powerful Federal attack, intended to be the vanguard of the invasion of Texas. The fort took the punishment of an all-day bombardment from four powerfully-armed gunboats, but when the gunboats attacked, the CS gunners disabled three with shots to their steam drums, capturing two of them and sending the rest of the force scrambling back to New Orleans.

When I say scrambling, I mean it literally.. several transport vessels, carrying the occupation force of about 5,000 men, collided with each other off the bar, and horses, mules, and provisions were thrown overboard to lighten the vessels so they could escape more quickly.

And of course, Fort Griffin was extensively strengthened, expanded, enlarged, and better-armed after the battle. The full transcript of Sulakowski's orders for this work is too extensive to post here. Fort Manhassett, a system of five redoubts and redans built over a mile of saltgrass prairie seven miles west of Sabine Pass, closed off the westward approach to Fort Griffin.

Piggybacking on JD Stevens's post on the Galveston fortifications, I'll add that on March 12, 1864, the city council of Galveston tendered their thanks to Sulakowski and Kellersberg, "two distinguished engineers who have displayed such scientific and military skill in erecting defenses around the city and other vulnerable points on the gulf coast, which stand in bold defiance, now complete, to resist any force which our common enemy can bring to bear against us."

So at least in Texas, fortifications were every bit as well-built and dangerous as those anywhere else in the CSA.
 
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As far as MSG it seems only 1 company in the First division was organized as engineers, think the other 8 divisions had none. Part of it may have been later incorporated into the 4th CS engineer Regt
 

Lost Cause

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There are still some Confederate earthworks at the Columbus-Belmont State Park in Kentucky (former site of Fort Halleck on the Mississippi). I haven't seen them in person and have no opinion on whose were better. The Union took it all over but just garrisoned soldiers there for the rest of the war.
Fort at Columbus Ky in the distance from the vantage point of Belmont, Mo.
864A5C13-F12E-437D-A4C0-2C3ADD7A8F38.jpeg
 

Lost Cause

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Fort Blair in Baxter Springs, Ks. The earthen fortifications are mostly gone. However, there is a museum and several interpretive signs that remain describing Quantrill’s raid into the town.
67230BC4-128D-4138-AC88-FE05CB14B95A.jpeg
 
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